One certain creature in particular is casting a very long shadow over Pro Tour Dragon's Maze.
Well, two shadows.
Ætherling, the super upgrade of the former "best creature in the game" Morphling, has certainly lived up to its lineage. Effectively untouchable, quite unblockable, and almost literally unbeatable, Ætherling has been the finisher of choice for control decks sporting blue mana.
But it hasn't been the only one.
While everyone with blue mana and a plan to extend the game past turn 6 or so is rocking several copies of Ætherling, control decks of all kinds are also leaning on a number of cards to close out games, some with more success than others.
Inspired by Jace, Architect of thought, we played a little game of Pro and Con with Reid Duke and Martin Jůza on the possible finishers in Return to Ravnica Block Constructed to see what you want and why you want it when trying to end a long game in a hurry.
"There are just very few ways to get it off the board once it sticks. You would have to really go out of your way, like playing something like Pithing Needle. Plus, it's difficult to race."
"Ætherling is the best, by far. The fact is that nothing interacts with it and it races really well. I mean, you can Fog it for a turn with something like Far // Away, but that's about it."
Pros: Virtually unkillable with enough blue mana, fast clock once in play, plays offense and defense, no vulnerability to Renounce the Guilds, Mizzium Mortars, Supreme Verdict, or pretty much anything
Cons: Expensive to play and protect in one turn, more expensive than other options, somewhat vulnerable to Pithing Needle (which isn't seeing much play this weekend)
"Very good against creatures, not very good against Ætherling."
"We thought there would be more Junk, which it's good against, but I don't like it at all. I wish it was just more Obzedats."
–Martin Jůza (his team is playing four Blood Baron's in their Esper deck)
Lifelink destroys aggressive decks, protection from two highly-played colors
Cons: Vulnerable to Mizzium Mortars and Supreme Verdict, restricted to Orzhov-based decks, smaller than Advent of the Wurm token
"Ghost Council is a very good card, but it's not really the best tool for any single job. It's good in RWB decks that need to beat Supreme Verdict."
"There's a lot of Esper here, and it's very good in the mirror. If you expect a lot of Esper, you play this."
Pros: Difficult for control decks to kill, not vulnerable to Supreme Verdict, helps race or hold off aggressive decks
Renounce the Guilds, very restrictive casting cost, legendary, vulnerable to Selesnya Charm
"It's a really, really good card, but it causes a lot of problems with deck construction. You can play it, but then if you get a Guildgate milled by Psychic Strike, you lose unless you play two of each. But then all of your lands come into play tapped."
"We tried to prevent Luis from seeing the list, so he wouldn't say 'sweet' and try to play it,"
–Martin Jůza, laughing and adding that it restricts deck construction a lot.
Pros: Virtually indestructible and uncounterable, uses up land slots instead of spell slots, provides inevitability, fixes mana along the way
Cons: Extremely restrictive on deck building choices, lands come into play tapped, very slow
"Angel is the type of finisher that I'm used to: all I have to do is survive until I can cast it. It's particularly strong against the token decks."
"I think it's like one mana too slow. It's great against Green-White, but Merciless Eviction does the same thing for one less mana."
Pros: Plays defense and offense, can turn around disadvantageous board positions, can rebuild wrecked board positions, offers Supreme Verdict protection
Cons: Expensive, vulnerable to Selesnya Charm, doesn't race Obzedat, Ghost Council, Ætherling, or Blood Baron well
"It's a nice one-of or two-of in decks that can pressure life totals."
"There really isn't a good deck for it. The UWR deck is fine, but it doesn't have Far // Away. That deck has a big problem with regenerating creatures like Lotleth Troll and Varolz, the Scar-Striped."
Pros: Kills quickly, one of the few that can race Ætherling
Cons: Restrictive casting cost, vulnerable to Mizzium Mortars, Renounce the Guilds
"It's good when you need to diversify."
"It's bad because of this card [flashes Jace, Architect of Thought]. It might be fine with Legion's Initiative, but there isn't really a deck that wants those two."
Pros: Difficult to kill, plays some defense, not vulnerable to Supreme Verdict
Jace, Architect of Thought, doesn't race Ætherling well